Retro platform games designed for casual gamers

Discussion in 'Development & Distribution' started by clilian, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. clilian

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    Hello,

    For those who don't know me, I'm Lilian, I run a company not related to gaming (enterprise java) and develop games for the fun of it (just a hobby as you can verify here if you're in a good mood) although I'm more and more tempted to produce a full game and not one of those partial attempts again...

    My question is the following : Do you think there's a place in this casual games world for retro platform games like the old arcades (dockey kong / dk jr, bomb jack...). I mean could a top-quality game in that segment be successful ?

    Surely the games would need a new twist (say introduce 3D, "cute" heroes, more background stories) so they don't compete with mame and flash games. But they also should try to match the simplicity of those games (levels that fit on screen, limited set of actions).

    So for those who have tried (sucessfuly or not) to follow that path, do you think there's a place for that kind of games ?

    Regards,

    Lilian
     
  2. James C. Smith

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    I think it could work. But you should probably try to stay true to the simplicity of those games. Don’t make it too complicated with too much of a “twistâ€￾. I would attempt it with no scrolling but I could be wrong. Maybe scrolling would be okay. I would definitely stay away from 3D playfields and any camera rotations. If you want to model your hero in 3D or even make the whole level 3D that can be fine. Just keep the player movement on a single plane.

    I would not worry about competing with mame. Just make a good game that appeals to the casual gamer and they will buy it. They are not going to be comparing it mame games. Besides, it is easy to beat a mame game. Those arcade games all have a design that is all wrong for a PC game. They all try to get another quarter every 3 minutes. When you can play Gauntlet with infinite lives it is not fun anymore.

    That reminds me, you will need to be careful to not copy the design of an arcade game too closely. The player psychology and reward schedule need to be very different than a quarter drop game. Players are not going to want to reply the same level over and over until they learn it perfectly. And if they die 3 times on level 4 they are not going to stand for going back to level 1. If you allow save games and/or infinite lives and/or level check points it is going to affect how the levels should be designed and how many you need. Basically, it boils down to the fact that you will probably need dozens (or hundreds) of levels.
     
  3. Andy

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    Strange questions really Lilian.

    Following by your link/games I can realize that you have some background in gaming and development. So, may I ask in change - haven't you noticed so far that ALL (namely) titles selling good on casual portals are direct clones of the same old ideas and each other?

    Anyway. The answer to your questions is strong YES. James is right: make the appropriate adjustments, add modern graphics - check the Reflexive titles for examples ;-) - and that's all.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Addictive 247

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    Check out Coin Planets. We wanted to develop a platform game which had old school gameplay. We used single screen levels, jump through platforms but all the characters were 3D modelled.

    James is right about replaying levels and save points. Originally Coin Planets would only save your progress after each planet (5 levels) and you could only play the planets in a specific order. Most players' didn't like that idea as it made the game too difficult. We changed it so the planets could be played in any order and everyone was happy!

    The retro gaming/remakes scene is something I'm very interested in and our next game may be a complete retro game with retro graphics and sound. I think the games market is missing out on some classic old style gaming. Whether it sells or not is a different matter though :)
     
  5. clilian

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    Thanks for the input

    So far, my knowledge of the casual market is rather limited but from what I can see on most portals, the current trend is on match-3, shooters, breakout and puzzle games (not many platforms around...)

    Lilian
     
  6. clilian

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    I'll try it tomorrow ! Is that game successful ? (from your point of view)

    Lilian
     
  7. papillon

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    (I dunno, my other half enjoys playing Gauntlet with infinite lives - but it isn't really an experience he'd pay for. :) )

    If I were going to design a casual platform game, I think I'd start by looking at Yoshi's Island. Not the exact gameplay, but things like the cute factor and the way in which difficulty is kept both low AND high - Getting through a level isn't that hard. The casual player can press on and have a good time without feeling TOO threatened or overwhelmed. But UNLOCKING a level - fulfilling the full bonus conditions and so on - is much harder. So after you've just pushed through once, you can come back and take on the level again with more experience and skills and try to really master it. But you don't HAVE to.

    Obviously, hidden content and extras take more time to develop...

    There are lots of little things that can be done to make tough platforms more friendly.... having a character react to a just-barely-missed jump with a silly animation that frantically grabs for the space, gasps for breath, and scolds the player (burning up extra time) rather than falling to its doom... If I'm playing something casual, I don't want to die! A minor setback like lost time or falling a little ways down and having to go back up again is preferable to starting over.
     
  8. Addictive 247

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    It's our best seller so far followed by the first game in the series Coin World.
     
  9. electronicStar

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    I'd say yes, but you have to make the games easier because today's players just wouldn't have the patience to play these insanely hard games (just try DK junior to see what I mean).
    You also need to provide more content and more rewards.
     
  10. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    check out any snowy game (by alawar) they would be a good "blueprint" to follow.
     
  11. clilian

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    Many thanks to everyone. I'll be back with something to show (don't know yet if i'm going for a full game or a tech demo).

    Lilian
     
  12. DanDanger

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    Hello,

    I wrote Keith Goes Painting which is a retro style platform game. This game has been downloaded about 500 times every month since I first put it up. I had to up the bandwidth with my hosting service because of it. Now this game is free and probably doesn't represent how willing people are to pay for this kind of game, but it does seem there is interest in this kind of thing.
     
  13. Raptisoft

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    Joining the chorus, I just put out "Hap Hazard," which is my take on Jumpman. It was a lark, and not so much to sell as to fluff up my main page... but it's actually getting quite a few hits right now.
     
  14. Martoon

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    This is huge fun! Are you sure you don't have plans for further development/sales?
     
  15. Raptisoft

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    I'm glad you like it... but probably not. It'll depend on how many hits it gets. I'm about to start another project, not a lark, and if Hap Hazard gets a lot of players, I'll put together an advanced one in my spare time.

    But my current thought is no, it won't generate enough sales.
     
  16. Vectrex

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    I must be weird, but hap hazard is the exact type of thing I'd buy and I wouldn't dream of buying... well.. anything on this board to be honest. With a level editor with easy upload/download from within the game + online highscore of course :)
     
  17. Anthony Flack

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    I think very few people here actually like the sorts of games that are considered good money makers.
     
  18. Ricardo C

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    Which is why there are so many mediocre clones. People make them because they hear "that's where the money is", but their heart is not into it, and end up producing a mediocre, unremarkable title, or they don't even understand the genre, and produce just plain crap.

    Back on topic, I'd love to see some good retro platformers. I drifted away from consoles during the PS1-Saturn days, mainly because the traditional platformer was pretty much abandoned in favor of 3D revamps such as the current Sonic and Mario games. I love Mario64 and Sunshine as much as anyone, but I'd much rather have a new Mario 3/Mario World 2D platformer. Paper Mario was a step in the direction, but it's still not quite what want.
     
  19. Anthony Flack

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    Good job Nintendo are about to release one then.
     
  20. Ricardo C

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    The one coming out for the DS? Or did I miss an announcement?
     

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